Within cities of Taiwan scattered within neighborhoods, there are daily markets that are only open for business during certain hours of the day. They are either a Morning Market (7/8am to 12pm) or an Afternoon Market (3pm to 8pm). These markets have vendors stalls that sell fresh meat, seafood, fruits, vegetables, prepared food, beverages, kitchenware, and clothing. The closest thing to these markets that comes to mind in America is what is commonly known as a Farmer’s Market. In Taiwan these daily markets were the old traditional way that every day people did their shopping for food. It continues to this day and it is unique in that no matter what neighborhood you live in you will find morning and afternoon markets that lets you conveniently buy fresh ingredients and at inexpensive prices. From freshly killed chickens, ducks, to butchered whole pigs, catches of the day seafood from fish, squid, shrimp and clams in variety of sizes. Seasonal and all year round vegetables from potatoes, turnips, bamboo, peppers, mushrooms, bitter melon, garlic, onions, shallots, tomatoes, chili peppers, cabbage and indigenous greens.
Some of the more intimate markets have vendors that also package their vegetables for the working parent on the go. Sort of a personalized ready to cook meal bag thatcontains a main vegetable with accompaniments such as a few mushrooms, pinch of bean sprouts, a small carrot, a couple of green scallion stalks and a chili pepper. These meal bag vegetables have been separated from stems, stalks, and ready to cook. In addition for the on the go family there are vendors who sell freshly cooked entrees such as roasted duck, grilled fish and squid, grilled pork belly or stir fried vegetable entrees. Some of the markets are
conveniently located next to elementary schools to target the parent who brings their child to and from school daily. It is always recommended to come early because supply is limited as nothing is kept for resale for the next day. If you arrive at a Morning Market after 10am most items will be sold out. Vendors carry just enough to sell out as there is no refrigeration to store for another day. These daily markets are supplemented by the more common small and larger sized commercialstores/supermarkets that carry goods, wares and food. It’s just that the food ingredients are obviously are not going to be as fresh as the daily markets. Cooking at home for me has truly been fun. I can always count on buying ingredients that are alway available, fresh, inexpensive and conveniently close by our home. Back int Nj/NYC there were often times that shopping for fresh food ingredients was so time-consuming in locating it consistently or it was tooxpensive that there was no desire to cook.
Jianguo Market is one of the oldest traditional morning markets in Taichung. It is a retail and a wholesale market that provides many of the restaurant si nTaichung. It is located just beside the main Taichung City Railway and Bus station which is a 15 minute scooter ride from our home. The market is centrally located in a main ground floor building which contains meat and seafood vendors with refrigeration storage. Then it continues outside adjacent to the building for 2 block long which also is lined with vendors selling fresh meat, seafood, vegetable and fruit.
Because of the many vendors and variety of food ingredients, Sintty and I shop here often. I was able to find bone marrow here from a beef vendor. Some of the beef is imported from both Australia and the U.S. Prices are competitive and there are plenty of vendors selling the same ingredients so it is inexpensive. The outside market gets congested about mid morning. The narrow “2 way” street is filled daily with shoppers ether walking, or shoppers in scooters slowly pacing each vendor for what appeals to their eye quickly. Small delivery trucks also share the same narrow road from both directions. There is one intersection in the outside market which has no lights or signs which at first glance is scary crazy looking. But just like everything in Taiwan when it comes to traffic and crowds ,it is an organized chaos. There is no yelling, screaming or beeping of horns in anger. Everybody kindly gives each other the right of way.